27 of Our Favorite Outdoor Party Ideas

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summer party drinks and flower decorations
Iain Bagwell

Gathering family and friends in your backyard for an outdoor party is a surefire way to have a good time. Whether you're a seasoned party planner or are throwing your first summertime soirée, our favorite recipes and decoration ideas will help you take your event to the next level.

Nothing sets the scene for an outdoor party like a few festive decorations. Whether you're hosting a daytime extravaganza or gathering loved ones for a nighttime bash, good lighting is key. Incorporate column lights around the food table or place tiki torches along the entrance of your outdoor party to guide guests towards the fun in a thematic way. Place terra-cotta decorative bowls with your favorite flowers throughout for an extra pop of color.

No party is complete without a delicious menu, so you'll want to curate a great selection of food and drinks. Greet guests with a DIY sangria bar. It's easy and quick, allowing everyone to make their own drink to their liking. Simply place spirit-infused chopped fruit in bowls alongside pitchers of red and white wine and cold seltzer or chilled fruit juice. Another crowd-friendly drink option is to make a big-batch signature cocktail that guests can serve themselves—we recommend a margarita for the warmer months. Also make sure to have snacks on deck—like pretzels pictured here—in easy-to-grab packaging.

Next up is the food. Serve your meal of choice with our fresh tomato and beet salad for a nutritious side. Finish off the soirée with lemon-spice ice cream sandwiches—they'll help guests cool off after spending hours en plein air.

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Decorate with Terra-Cotta

terracotta tableware
Addie Juell

Intersperse potted plants around the party area. Add decorative touches in the same earthy material like napkin rings, vases, and incense holders. This simple mold-by-hand clay creates gorgeous tableware that will work both indoors and outdoors as party décor.

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Add Functional Seating

Paul Raeside

Create a space where everyone will be comfortable. Collapsible chairs are lightweight and easy to maneuver once the party is over. Choose a collection in a hue that complements your dinnerware for some seamless outdoor party décor.

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Make a Citrus Garden Wreath

sweet laurel retreat hanging orange wreath
Claire Thomas

Create your own wreath from household and garden items. Hang the wreath from a tree to add some color to your outdoor party.

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Relax in Wicker

outdoor picnic table under tree by wooden fence
Pernille Loof

Outdoor furniture doesn't have to be uncomfortable. Bring items from your patio to the grass and have a feast amongst nature. It's an easy party setup that doesn't require much additional décor to wow.

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Make Your Own Tiki Torch Anchors


Add festive lighting to your party space with tiki torches. Anchor them in gravel-filled, galvanized-steel flower buckets ($36.99, wayfair.com), and have yourself a tropical night. To anchor the torches, position flower buckets on level ground for stability. Hold one torch upright in each bucket and fill the bucket with garden gravel to about three inches from the rim. The containers are then heavy enough to support the lit torches safely as they burn.

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Incorporate Madras in the Occasion

madras trays
Lennart Weibull

This summertime fabric is the perfect fit for a DIY project and a stylish addition to your outdoor parties. Line your trays, create tablecloths, or napkins to create one-of-a-kind details throughout your event.

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Add Canvas Décor

canvas pillows
Pernille Loof

Incorporate canvas throughout your outdoor seating and décor. Whether you create a cooling umbrella for some extra shade or table settings, canvas can be your go-to fabric for effortless appeal.

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Add Light Columns


For a nighttime party, light columns add an intimate feel to your space while also serving as a great source of light.

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Opt for Knotted Seat Cushions

tufted bench cushions
Lennart Weibull

Your party seating shouldn't sacrifice comfort. Upgrade your outdoor arrangement with chic knotted cushions that combine bohemian style with fluffy accents.

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Send No-Melt Popsicle Party Invitations

pink and red popsicle invitations
Emily Kate Roemer

Invite guests to your soirée with melt-proof invitations. Print the clip-art onto a sheet of vellum. spray adhesive on a blank sheet of vellum, and adhere it to reverse side of printed sheet. Rip two strips of pale-pink glassine (to cover the top third of each pop shape), and one strip of dark-pink glassine roughly twice as wide; arrange them as shown. Secure the strips to vellum with spray adhesive. Write in party information. Cut out pops. Sandwich sticks between cut-outs, and glue together with glue stick. Repeat for more invitations. Print clip art for the "sprinkle" envelope labels on self-adhesive paper; write in addresses, and affix to glassine envelopes.

Shop Now: Recollections Clear Vellum Paper, 8.5" by 11", $16, michaels.com.

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Create a DIY Sangria Bar

red pink white sangria jars drinks
Sidney Bensimon

We love a make-your-own sangria bar for outdoor parties. Not only will guests get to enjoy tasty drinks, but the service style also frees you up from bartending work. Make some of your favorites—like Stone Fruit Sangria or Summer Fruit Sangria—to serve up for your festivities.

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Line Your Serving Tray

Lined serving tray
Kirsten Francis

Waterproof your bamboo serving trays with oil cloth and a chic pattern to catch the eye of everyone in sight while keeping your platter in tip-top shape.

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Dress a Tomato-Beet Salad


Complete your meals with nutritious and tasty side dishes. As delicious as it is colorful, this recipe takes advantage of the season's freshest produce. Red beets and heirloom tomatoes create a rainbow side.

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Mix Up a Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad with Green Beans and Basil
Ren Fuller

This summer salad is a delicious addition to your outdoor party, and it's a winner with vegetarians and carnivores, alike. Farfalle is paired with fresh green beans, chickpeas, red onion, and salty capers for a savory dish.

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Bite Into Lemon-Spice Ice Cream Sandwiches

Bryan Gardner

Delight guests with sweet and tangy treats like these cakey cookie sandwiches. The citrus-flavored ice is sandwiched between two cookies for a delectable, cooling dessert.

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Crunch on Vegetable Cups

Kate Mathis

Keep your serving simple with cups of vegetables to serve as a healthy side for your summertime party. Fill up on the produce in cups over ice to keep them cool and refreshing.

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Serve a Summer Fruit and Nut Platter

summer fruit nut platter
Justin Walker

Mix sweet and salty for a satisfying finale to your outdoor party. Our summer fruit and nut platter pairs stone fruit, strawberries, and cherry gold tomatoes with fresh ricotta, other light cheeses, and nuts.

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Scoop Out a Watermelon Punch Bowl

Johnny Miller

Offer up a refreshing watermelon punch for the festivities. Empty out a watermelon to serve as a DIY punch bowl filled with a delicious mix of the fruit and seltzer.

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Light Herb Votives

Aaron Dyer

These pretty herb-embellished votives are really a cinch to put together—and they instantly up the eye appeal of any table setting while adding a hint of fragrance. Snip sprigs of woody fresh herbs (thyme is shown, but rosemary or sage works, too) and tie three or four to each glass votive with a piece of twine.

Shop Now:Ashland Glass Votive Holder, $1.09, michaels.com.

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Keep Glassware Slip-Free

rubber bands on glassware
Aaron Dyer

Give your guests the perfect glassware to sip on your array of drinks come party time. A no-slip design is perfect for adults and children alike to use.

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Protect the Buffet

Raymond Hom

Put a simple twist on your flowerpots for celebration décor and a food cover. Lift the pot by sticking one finger through the drain hole, or create a handle by cutting an 18-inch length of 1/4-inch cord and knotting the ends together. Thread the looped end through the drain hole in the flowerpot.

Shop Now: Teku Decorative Plastic Terra Cotta Flower Pot, $17.74, homedepot.com.

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Add Sparkle and Shine


Shiny centerpieces will be on full display with this project. In a well-ventilated area, cover work surface with newspaper. Apply two coats of spray paint to shells. Let dry. Form foil into crumpled "cups" for support, and nestle a shell into each one. Melt candle wax over low heat in a pot. Dip a wick tab into the wax, then stick the wick in the center of a shell. Repeat with other wicks and shells. Carefully pour remaining melted wax into shells.

Shop Now: ArtMinds Mosaic Shells, $4, michaels.com; Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X Metallic Gold Spray Paint and Primer, $3.96, walmart.com; ArtMinds Candle Making Soy Wax, $23, michaels.com.

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Serve Sweet Refreshments

Aaron Dyer

Is this melon-sorbet float a drink or a dessert? With something this cool and delicious, it doesn't matter what you call it—or when you serve it. As you make the melon balls, scoop some extras to keep in the freezer so you can serve up another round of these dairy-free floats in an instant.

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Floral Straws

Sang An

Create one-of-a-kind details like these floral straws for your tabletop. Fold one baking cup in half, then again, and then a third time. Use circle template and a pencil to mark an arc along the curved end; cut along the line. Unfold; punch a hole in the center. Punch a hole in the center of one candy cup.

Shop Now:Straws Pailles Assorted Color Striped Plastic Straws, $8 for 100, walmart.com; Chef Craft Parchment Paper Baking Cups, $5.87 for 72, walmart.com.

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Show Off Decorative Lanterns

scalloped party lanterns
Raymond Hom

Create beautiful hanging decorations for overhead the table. Starting at the bottom of the lantern, use small squares of tape to begin attaching tissue-paper disks around the hole, overlapping them. Working toward the top, continue sticking and overlapping disks to cover the lantern.

Shop Now: Celebrate It Solid Tissue Paper, $4, michaels.com.

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Use Cocktail Covers

paper cocktail covers

Your guests will be able to sip their drinks in style with these cocktail glass covers. Simply offer paper covers for no-spill drinks all day long.

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Give Spray-Painted Plant Gift Bags

plant gift bag
Pernille Loof

Send guests home with a bit of the outdoors to remember your party by. We're partial to these DIY plant gift bags. Add whatever plants you want and watch as loved ones grow them at home.

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